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Open Access Research

Nonlinear analysis of electromyogram following gait training with myoelectrically triggered neuromuscular electrical stimulation in stroke survivors

Anirban Dutta1*, Bhawna Khattar2 and Alakananda Banerjee2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg-August-University, Goettingen, Germany

2 Department of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, Max Super Specialty Hospital Saket, New Delhi, India

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EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing 2012, 2012:153  doi:10.1186/1687-6180-2012-153

Published: 20 July 2012


Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) facilitates ambulatory function after paralysis by activating the muscles of the lower extremities. The NMES-assisted stepping can either be triggered by a heel-switch (switch-trigger), or by an electromyogram (EMG)-based gait event detector (EMG-trigger). The command sources—switch-trigger or EMG-trigger—were presented to each group of six chronic (>6 months post-stroke) hemiplegic stroke survivors. The switch-trigger group underwent transcutaneous NMES-assisted gait training for 1 h, five times a week for 2 weeks, where the stimulation of the tibialis anterior muscle of the paretic limb was triggered with a heel-switch detecting heel-rise of the same limb. The EMG-trigger group underwent transcutaneous NMES-assisted gait training of the same duration and frequency where the stimulation was triggered with surface EMG from medial gastrocnemius (MG) of the paretic limb in conjunction with a heel-switch detecting heel-rise of the same limb. During the baseline and post-intervention surface EMG assessment, a total of 10 s of surface EMG was recorded from bilateral MG muscle while the subjects tried to stand steady on their toes. A nonlinear tool—recurrence quantification analysis (RQA)—was used to analyze the surface EMG. The objective of this study was to find the effect of NMES-assisted gait training with switch-trigger or EMG-trigger on two RQA parameters—the percentage of recurrence (%Rec) and determinism (%Det), which were extracted from surface EMG during fatiguing contractions of the paretic muscle. The experimental results showed that during fatiguing contractions, (1) %Rec and %Det have a higher initial value for paretic muscle than the non-paretic muscle, (2) the rate of change in %Rec and %Det was negative for the paretic muscle but positive for the non-paretic muscle, (3) the rate of change in %Rec and %Det significantly increased from baseline for the paretic muscle after EMG-triggered NMES-assisted gait training. Therefore, the study showed an improvement in paretic muscle function during a fatiguing task following gait training with EMG-triggered NMES. This study also showed that RQA parameters—%Rec and %Det—were sensitive to changes in paretic/non-paretic muscle properties due to gait training and can be used for non-invasive muscle monitoring in stroke survivors undergoing rehabilitation.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation; Electromyogram; Foot-drop; Stroke; Recurrent quantification analysis